Austin City Limits Festival
September 19, 2004
If you like rock n’ roll, you’ll like The Drive-By Truckers. Simple as that. Good songs are good songs. Their quality was undeniable at the Austin City Limits Festival Sunday afternoon.
The eight year-old quintet from Birmingham, AL, played one well-written anthemic song after another. The best thing about the band was they had three equally talented guitarists/songwriters/vocalists. Mike Cooley discussed reverence and wonder during “Carl Perkins’ Cadillac,” while Jason Isbell offered an objective view of respect on “The Day John Henry Died.” These guys were great storytellers that captured the dark mystery and grandeur of the South in an intellectual and sentimental way.
The crowd connected with their earnest nature during a song by bandleader Patterson Hood midway through the set. During the song's breakdown, Hood told the long-winding story of how his mother ended up with a trucker late in life. Hood stood there with a smile and spoke in amazement at the strange sequence of events(fate) that led the trucker to his mother. He ran his fingers through his hair like he was trying to grasp at the craziness of the story. He acted like this was the first time he had told the story(“I couldn’t make this shit up,” he said), and after that the audience was with the band.
The Drive-By Truckers’ crunchy guitar attack was massive at points. They weren’t afraid to solo, and it sounded great. The Truckers succeeded at one or two slower songs, but they mainly stuck to large rockers for their one-hour set.
Great stories, brilliant music, and lots of heart. That’s what mattered most. Without the heart, The Drive-By Truckers would have been any other good hard rock band. But, with it they’re one of the best around.